Wakkerstroom is one of South Africa’s prime birding spots. This friendly little town is surrounded by vast wetlands that attract a significant number of birds, including some of South Africa’s most threatened species. The name Wakkerstroom literally means ‘stream that is awake’. It’s the Afrikaans translation of the Zulu name for the uThaka River that flows near the town.
The town dates back to 1859 – it’s the second-oldest Boer town in Mpumalanga. This is primarily a sheep and cattle farming area.
The town is friendly, with charming guest houses and B&Bs, as well as convivial restaurants and arts & craft spots. If you’re into history, check out the historical buildings that include old Boer homesteads and British blockhouses. Wakkerstroom saw several battles during the Anglo-Boer War.
Some of the earliest settlers in Wakkerstroom were a number of gentlemen who had been, against their wishes, on the way to Australia. They broke out of their leg irons and jumped ship in Durban, making their way to the closest place outside the jurisdiction of the Natal Colonial Police - Wakkerstroom.
Look out for
Birdwatching - Wakkerstroom is birding central. Bring boots, binoculars, bird books and picnic hampers. It’s considered to be one of the prime birdwatching destinations in southern Africa. The best months to view birds are from mid-September to mid-April. Specialist guides are available to take visitors to the various locations. Nearby are seasonal pans that support a diversity of water birds. After good rains, the pans fill and there is a flurry of birdlife. You may see species like the whiskered tern, great crested and black-necked grebes, and white-backed and maccoa ducks.
Anglo-Boer War history - The area around here is a showcase of Anglo-Boer War history. You can visit the battlefields of Blood River, Kambula, Majuba and Schuinshoogte. Historical buildings include Boer homesteads, British blockhouses, the 1897 courthouse and St Mark’s Church. The Kruger Bridge that was built in 1893 over the uThaka River is a National Monument.
Outdoors - Apart from birding there is great fishing to be had in and around Wakkerstroom. You can also go hiking, mountain biking and paragliding.
San rock art - A number of fascinating sites are found in the area and you can do a guided tour of some of the paintings of these Stone Age artists.